Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Sep 30 2005 - Gauley Rafting & Rapelling (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Carrie Graff, Lora Polowczuk, Jesse Allen
Participants:Adam Miller, John Ciezki, Jesse Allen, Carrie Graff, Lora Polowczuk, Ernest Graff, Roy Cutler

Write Up:
Our rafting weekend got off to a reasonably prompt start as we all met online at the carpool location and bundled up our gear between cars. Shadow greeted us all as we got acquainted and then we headed on the road. We had tried to get a very early start in the evening to beat traffic out of the city, but alas a Cold Play concert at Nissan Pavillion robbed us of that edge: it took two and a half hours to get to Front Royal at an unpleasant average speed (carefully measured by Adam) of an amazing 17 miles per hour. In the HOV-3 fast lane, we probably could have outwalked the traffic through Manassass.

But after that inauspicous start, we had a quick dinner in Front Royal and got back on the road to West Virginia that got us to the campground around 1 AM. For those of us that found it the first time around. At the site, we found Carrie's parents already set up with their tent and a bottle of wine on the table ready to greet us. They introduced themselves, but headed in to bed as we set up our tents. With an early start to our adventures in the morning, none of us lingered long either,. But long enough to polish off a good bottle of a New York State Red.

We got up bright and early and Lora headed up to check on the exact starting time only to find that we had at least an hour more than we had realized. Once the time got close, we headed up for the hockey puck breakfast on supply with our outfitter, then while trying not to be trampled by the painfully young and obnoxiously scented University of Delaware students (they get an F in personal hygiene), we got our wetsuits and got changed for the day before piling into a quite well packed school bus for the 45 minute drive to the base of the dam on the Gaulley River where we would be putting in. Thank goodness for open windows...

With our group of seven, we were (with a guide) a perfect fit for a single raft. We got one of our regular guides, Dave (see the adventures of certain poor fools in his hands on the Gaulley last year). Roy, fearful that the Gaulley just would not be quite enough of an exciting challenge for him, took front seat while I, Jesse, got the other side at front by process of everyone else claiming they did not want the front before I got a chance to speak up for myself. :-( But itís actually a good position on the boat to see what is going on and know when and how to brace yourself and which direction to lean so as to not get tossed in the river. I never left the raft save of my own voilition. Which is more than I can say of certain fellow crew members who managed to get tossed over the side at the first Class I Initiation Rapids. One member even managed to fall out the left side of the boat despite having a seat on the right! But we wonít embarass Mr. Graff by mentioning his name...

Our troubles stemmed from the two sides not taking their paddle strokes together. Once back in the raft, we practiced our paddling and got to a much more satisfying level of expertise. We did continue to struggle with co-ordinated backwards strokes, which would prove our downfall later down the river. But after a series of mild rapids past Initiation, we were clearly on a good footing and ready to take on the real rough and tumble of the Gaulley.

The Gaulley is one of the best ten white water rafting rivers in the world, and second only to the Colorado in the United States. But while the Colorado runs its amazing series of rapids between Lakes Powell and Mead through the Grand Canyon and takes nearly three weeks to run the entire length, the Gaulley has a similar number of rapids compressed into the space of a single day, the most intense section of which is the Upper Gaulley section, with some 68 rapids in the space of a mere 13 miles, five of t

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